2008 file photo/Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Published Friday, April 26, 2013 | 11:05 a.m.
Updated Friday, April 26, 2013 | 1:16 p.m.
Controversial plans for open-pit mining in the Sloan Hills near Henderson will not move forward, the Bureau of Land Management announced Friday, effectively blocking any attempts to mine at the site.
Friday’s decision was a victory for residents in the area, which includes Anthem, who have voiced their opposition to any mining there since it was initially proposed in 2007.
With the backing of local elected officials, residents collected thousands of signatures opposing the mine and voiced their concerns — from decreased property values to excessive noise — in letters and comments made during public meetings.
Two companies, Mexico-based CEMEX and Service Rock Products from California, submitted applications to mine and sell minerals from two separate sites in the hills, which are rich in limestone and dolomite.
The BLM considered five different alternatives for the project, four of which included allowing the companies to mine at one or both of the proposed sites, which cover a combined 640 acres.
The BLM opted for the fifth option, the no-action alternative, which will keep the lands public and maintain their current state.
The largest-scale proposal considered by the BLM would have seen about 200 million tons of material mined over 30 years. Transporting all that material would have required 312,000 truck trips through the area each year, according to the BLM.
That volume of truck traffic, coupled with on-site emissions, would “impede compliance” with national air quality standards, a major factor in blocking the mines, according to the final environmental impact statement released Friday.
In the report, the BLM also noted that “strong opposition” from residents and elected officials contributed to its decision.
“Residents living near the proposed mine sites place value in their property for the scenic value, rural character, and outdoor recreation opportunities,” the impact statement said. “Local residents are opposed to the construction and operation of open pit mines in close proximity to their houses because they feel it would negatively impact their health, property values, and quality of life.”
Local leaders, including Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Dina Titus and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, praised the BLM’s decision.
“Over the years I have heard from thousands of southern Nevadans who oppose the Sloan Hills gravel pit, and today’s decision from BLM is welcome news,” Reid said in a statement. “Keeping our communities safe and healthy is critical and I am pleased that these ill-conceived mines will remain inactive.”
Sisolak called the decision a “no-brainer.”
“This has been a long fight by thousands of Henderson-area residents,” Sisolak said in a statement. “We’ve all been deeply concerned. These mining operations and its parade of dump trucks would have really damaged residents’ quality of life and potentially affected their health. It would have raised more dust, truck traffic and noise and lowered property values.”